American Indian culture
"Baidarka" is the name of the traditional Aleut kayak style. This is not actually an Aleut word-- it comes from the
Russian word baidara, which comes from an indigenous Siberian word for "boat" and was used by Russian explorers
to refer to any kind of native boat. Aleut people call their kayaks
iqyax in their own language.
Baidarkas were fast, maneuverable hunting boats. A baidarka was made of a light wooden frame with a sea lion skin cover stretched
over it, and was propelled and steered with a wooden paddle. In the old days, each Aleut hunter paddled his own baidarka,
but after guns were introduced by the Russians, they began using larger two-man kayaks, because a baidarka was so light that
the recoil of a gun would capsize it without a second paddler to keep it steady.
Here are links to our webpages about the Aleut tribe and language:
Eskimo-Aleut language family
Here are links to more Internet resources about baidarkas:
Aleutian Kayaks (Baidarka)
Cultural Change: Bidarki
And here are a few good books about baidarkas and the Aleuts:
The Aleutian Kayak: Origins, Construction, and Use of the Traditional Seagoing Baidarka
Baidarka: The Kayak
Aleut Identities: Tradition and Modernity
Aleut Tales and Narratives
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